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Simply Not Worth It
September 9, 2005 4:44 AM   Subscribe

"We should not fight because it’s simply not worth it." Are these the words of a long-haired hippy? A neutral Swiss? A flip-flopping Democrat? A Frenchman in mid-surrender? Nope. It's from a speech by Texas Republican Ron Paul.
posted by Jatayu das (30 comments total)

 
It is not in our national interest. On the contrary, pursuing this war endangers our security, increases the chances of a domestic terrorist attack, weakens our defenses, and motivates our enemies to join together in opposition to our domineering presence around the world. Does anyone believe that Russia, China, and Iran will give us free reign over the entire Middle East and its oil? Tragically, we’re setting the stage for a much bigger conflict. It’s possible that this war could evolve into something much worse than Vietnam.

I was saying this from day one. When are we going to all rise up against this administration?
posted by stevejensen at 4:58 AM on September 9, 2005


A prominent (if inconstant) libertarian opposes using the Defense Department for foreign adventurism. No surprises there...
posted by alumshubby at 5:08 AM on September 9, 2005


Well, to be fair this guy is more a libertarian than a Republican. There's still a strong isolationist bloc within the Republican coalition.

And I, too, was saying these exact words (at least the part about Russia, China, and Iran more than willing to help us fall on our asses) before we went in in 2003 (from usenet):

> I see many differences to Vietnam (Indochina), including
> a missing super power to support the enemy or the problem that one
> cannot actually invade because of that super power.

You think Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, China & Russia don't want us to get bogged down on our little way to empire? You think they can't read English, or don't watch FOXNews?

> I see it more of a repeat of the victory in 1991, unless one argued that
> it will be even easier because Iraq has much less military power now
> than then.

Sure, we'll bomb the same crap we bombed in 1991, secure the same empty desert we secured in 1991. What follows will be the "interesting" bit.

I think chances are reasonable that Baghdad will go over to our side without too much hubbub, fwiw.

But just like on one level we were winning the Vietnam war in 1969, the parallels are that we are pursuing a tactical-offensive within a strategic-defensive policy.

Harry G Summers' _On Strategy_ is an excellent summary of the difficulties this poses:

Results therefrom: "Victory on the battlefield without general results in the war".

We can't even garrison Lebanon & Saudi Arabia without getting our asses car-bombed.


Could I call it or what :(
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:09 AM on September 9, 2005


Ah, but he's not REALLY a Republican, but a Libertarian. He ran as a Republican so as to be elected. Hence his views.
posted by ackptui at 5:13 AM on September 9, 2005


He was a Libertarian Presidential candidate at one time, and is probably the most consistently libertarian Republican in office right now. Shit, he's probably the most consistant and least rabid libertarian I've ever known of, period.

It's really too bad nobody in his own party even really listens to him; they could use the advice seeing as through the Republicans just sort of wander until they run into walls, then go the other way. They could use someone with some common sense to guide them.
posted by vanadium at 5:23 AM on September 9, 2005


.
posted by rawfishy at 5:58 AM on September 9, 2005


Paul's seminal work.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:17 AM on September 9, 2005


Ron Paul's critique of the reasons for war is quite correct and well-put. He draws on the lessons of history effectively. However, I think his assertion that our withdrawal will result in three autonomous and relatively peaceful republics is questionable:

First, the Sunnis would be left with the poorest, least oil-rich territory. They would be strongly motivated to return the country to its pre-invasion domination by their minority.

Second, Turkey has strongly opposed an independent Kurdistan. Given our presence, there is little they can do about it. After we leave, they may feel justified sending in troops to stop "Kurdish terrorists."

Third, Iraq's great oil wealth will be a strong temptation for her other neighbors. Is their temperance that much greater than ours that they will be able to resist one of the largest reserves on Earth, left virtually unguarded?

Finally, there is the simple, centuries old history of ethnic and religious conflict that has existed between these peoples.

I think the invasion was a terrible, terrible decision, but now that we are there we need to take responsibility for our actions and do everything possible to leave Iraq in no worse condition than we found it.
posted by justkevin at 6:21 AM on September 9, 2005


Libertarian he may be, historian he is not.
"Though most people think this war started in March of 2003, the seeds were sown many years before. The actual military conflict, involving U.S. troops against Iraq, began in January 1991."
Surely the military conflict began when America became militarily involved with Iraq? If so, this goes back to the start of the Iran-Iraq war. The arming of Iraq, and then the backing of Iran to play the two off against each other, must be seen as the start.
"Our use of troops to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait was the beginning of the current conflict with Muslim fundamentalists who have been, for the last decade, determined to force the removal of American troops from all Muslim countries..."
The issues of Islamism and Iraq only became entwined in the late 1990s when Saddam Hussein adopted the posture of an Islamist in a failed attempt to shore up support in the Middle East against America/the West. Secular Iraq had little or nothing to do with Islamic extremism (a look at Hussein/the Ba'ath Party's torturing of Islamic clerics is a good indication of that). Granted, the de-Ba'athification (what an ugly word!) of Iraq has given power to religious nutters, but that's a post facto development.

On preview, further to what justkevin has said, Syria, Turkey and Iran are all against an independent, oil-wealthy (if the Kurds keep Kirkuk) Kurdistan. Turkey has been quite explicit about what it will do if the Kurds try to set up an independent state.

I'm surprised that the Iraqi oil industry has not been privatised yet. Does anyone here think it will be?
posted by xpermanentx at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2005


Ron Paul is also arguing for suspending the the federal tax on gas - just another clueless Texan doing all he can to increase America's dependence on Middle East oil.
posted by three blind mice at 6:36 AM on September 9, 2005


I don't understand how the basic facts on Iraq changed between the time before the 2004 election and now, and I don't think they really have -- even in September 2004, after almost a year and a half on the ground, the US was satisfied that there were no WMDs and no serious link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

So why didn't Paul speak up then, when it might have done some good? Once Bush was reelected he had to know that realistically there was nothing that could cause a change of course of Iraq.
posted by clevershark at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2005


I thought his thing was well written and interesting.
posted by spilon at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2005


'the US was satisfied that there were no WMDs and no serious link between Saddam and al Qaeda.'

You are 'satisfied' with this? nearly 1900 bodybags and counting chasing phantom chemical labs and ghostly blueprints of centrifuges never implemented in the successful creation of a WMD?

Its starting to look worse that a catch 22 from where im standing. Fighing to honor the dead as a reason to keep fighting? Finish the 'mission' when nobody really knows what the real 'mission' is? Really.
posted by rawfishy at 7:34 AM on September 9, 2005


Dystopia Now!
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:35 AM on September 9, 2005


rawfishy writes "You are 'satisfied' with this? nearly 1900 bodybags and counting chasing phantom chemical labs and ghostly blueprints of centrifuges never implemented in the successful creation of a WMD?"

I meant "satisfied" in the sense that the CIA and military had officially established that there were no significant amounts of WMDs in Iraq.
posted by clevershark at 7:38 AM on September 9, 2005


In 1998 Congress capitulated to the desires of the Clinton administration and overwhelmingly passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which stated quite clearly that our policy was to get rid of Saddam Hussein. This act made it official: “The policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.” This resolution has been cited on numerous occasions by neo-conservatives as justification for the pre-emptive, deliberate invasion of Iraq. When the resolution was debated, I saw it as a significant step toward a war that would bear no good fruit. No legitimate national security concerns were cited for this dramatic and serious shift in policy.

Wait a minute. Someone's evidently throwing a little red meat to constiuents there or throwing a cya sop to fellow party members. Let us not forget that The Iraq Liberation Act was a promotion of William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, et al--the managing partners for the Project for A New American Century. The capitulation was on the part of Clinton to the desires of the Republican controlled Congress.

Containment, by contrast, was the preferred approach of the Clinton administration and its preferred method for assuring multilateral support for the US on Iraq in the Security Council. In the context of divided--and increasingly acrimonious--party control of the White House and Capitol Hill from 1995-2001, the competing approaches and institutional arenas in which they vied for support militated against a reliable clarity of goals, strategy and tactics on the part of the US. It was only with notable reluctance that Clinton signed into law the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998--heavily pushed by the GOP Congress--that made rollback the express goal of official US policy.

Iraq and US National Security Strategy After 9/11

And note the pertinent language of the act:

...[SEC. 4 (a)] (2) MILITARY ASSISTANCE- (A) The President is authorized to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training for such organizations.

SEC. 8. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces (except as provided in section 4(a)(2)) in carrying out this Act.


It is continually amazing to see how persistent elements of the congressional GOP are in demonizing Bill Clinton, arguably the most successful Republican president of the 20th Century, for the failures of policies they themselves promoted. I suppose it's Clinton's fault that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, too---Bill squashed a butterfly in the Rose Garden in 1999 whose wings would have otherwise flapped Katrina into demolishing Teheran's nuclear program or something like that.
posted by y2karl at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2005


Ron Paul opposes everything. There have been plenty of 400-1 votes in the house with him being the 1.
posted by delmoi at 8:01 AM on September 9, 2005


Ron Paul is also arguing for suspending the the federal tax on gas - just another clueless Texan doing all he can to increase America's dependence on Middle East oil.

Erm, no. Paul would shut down the DOE and DOT entirely, and leave states to pay for their own roads. By removing highway support from the federal budget, he would end the Federal highway subsidies which currently come out of the general budget. I would guess that most states would then pay for their roads entirely through user fees-- tolls and gas taxes. I don't know if overall government highway expenditures would go up or down, but if spending on highways is maintained (shifted between, but constant across all levels of government), our "dependence on foreign oil" would probably be reduced, because instead of paying for highways with our income taxes, we'd pay a locality-assessed surcharge at the pump greater than what is currently being charged by the Feds.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:17 AM on September 9, 2005


Sorry Kwantsar, but reducing the federal tax on fuel - for whatever reason - results in higher consumption and a reduced emphasis on fuel efficiency.

C'mon man, you know full well that the federal tax on fuel is no more associated with building roads than the social security tax is associated with money in a lock box.

A real libertarian would argue for higher taxes on fuel to reflect its true cost to the consumer. It seems to me that the full cost of the military adventure in Iraq should be added as a fuel surcharge to reflect this and to force the public to share in some of the sacrfice the national guard and active duty soldiers are being asked to make.

Using a federal tax to set the costs for fuel would result in a slew of rational ecomonic decisions that would transform the American economy and move it away from its dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
posted by three blind mice at 9:09 AM on September 9, 2005


Sorry, tbm, I nearly stopped reading after: "A real libertarian would argue for higher taxes..."

No, they wouldn't. And by using force to do so (as you said later on), that'd be a double "no".
posted by vanadium at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2005


A real libertarian would argue for higher taxes on fuel to reflect its true cost to the consumer.

You really have no idea what a real libertarian is, do you? A real libertarian would say that the true cost of fuel is indicated by its market price. Perhaps where you said libertarian you meant to say socialist? That would be technically more accurate, I think, and it would make you look like a little bit less of an idiot, three blind mice. Hey, every little bit helps.
posted by tweak at 9:23 AM on September 9, 2005


Sorry, vanadium, tweak, I disagree.

Libertarians aren't against government, they are against using government to distort a market driven by individual free choice.

It seems to me to be pretty obvious that the price of fuel in America does NOT reflect the true market value. The cost of the Iraq war is a direct result of the American policy for free flowing oil at market prices. This is a direct cost on that should be associated with the price of crude oil.

By hiding the true cost of fuel through other forms of direct and indirect taxation, the government is intentionally introducing a distortion into the market which is profoundly anti-Libertarian.

Debate the point, tweak, before calling someone an idiot and maybe you might look like less of one yourself.
posted by three blind mice at 9:35 AM on September 9, 2005


Sorry, vanadium, tweak, I disagree.

Libertarians aren't against government, they are against using government to distort a market driven by individual free choice.

It seems to me to be pretty obvious that the price of fuel in America does NOT reflect the true market value. The cost of the Iraq war is a direct result of the American policy for free flowing oil at market prices. This is a direct cost on that should be associated with the price of crude oil.

By hiding the true cost of fuel through other forms of direct and indirect taxation, the government is intentionally introducing a distortion into the market which is profoundly anti-Libertarian.

Debate the point, tweak, before calling someone an idiot and maybe you might look like less of one yourself.
posted by three blind mice at 9:39 AM on September 9, 2005


I mostly thought his argument was comprehensive, well written, compelling (plus I have a soft spot for Iconoclasts and misfits), but there's one sentence I found somewhat confusing:

So far our policies inadvertently have encouraged the development of an Islamic state, with Iranian-allied Shiites in charge. This has led to Iranian support for the insurgents, and has placed Iran in a position of becoming the true victor in this war as its alliance with Iraq grows.

I believe that statement to be true overall, but has the extremist fundamental Shiite government of Iran truly aligned itself with a (mostly) Sunni insurgency? Why would they need to, when it seems that with little or no effort they stand to become the force behind Iraq's (Shiite majority) government and eventual (fundy islam) constitution? As well as the only true benefactors?
posted by Skygazer at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2005


"Beyond the Euphrates began for us the land of mirage and danger, the sands where one helplessly sank, and the roads which ended in nothing. The slightest reversal would have resulted in a jolt to our prestige giving rise to all kinds of catastrophe; the problem was not only to conquer but to conquer again and again, perpetually; our forces would be drained off in the attempt."

Emperor Hadrian AD 117-138
posted by halekon at 11:18 AM on September 9, 2005


I don't know whether you missed my point entirely, 3bm, or whether you chose to ignore it-- but I'll put it to you again in different words:

If roads are to be owned and operated by the government, the libertarian usually believes that all costs associated with these roads should be paid by their users. In other words, tolls and gas taxes should, in sum, be no less and no greater than the operating/maintenance/construction costs of the roads. I might be mistaken, but I'm fairly certain that I read (somewhere credible) that the sum of tolls and gas taxes collected at all levels in the US are less than the sum spent on road construction and maintenance. Therefore, the funds for additional road spending must come from somewhere. That "somewhere" is general tax revenue and debt issuance. Therefore, our current system does not properly reflect or allocate transportation costs.

In the semi-libertarian system I have outlined above, gasoline taxes and tolls would better reflect the cost of roads.

I'd wager that Mr. Paul, a libertarian federalist, opposed the Federal gasoline tax as a matter of principle. There's little doubt in my mind that he thinks either the states or private firms should own and operate the roads, and his vote to ditch the federal gasoline tax is a reflection of his position.

And, halekon, give it a rest, already.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:43 AM on September 9, 2005


Using a federal tax to set the costs for fuel would result in a slew of rational ecomonic decisions that would transform the American economy and move it away from its dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

Unfortunately, AFAICT full-blown libertarianists don't have brains that are wired this way. It doesn't get much beyond "me! mine! mine!". From this cacophony of self-interest they expect a symphony to arise.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:46 PM on September 9, 2005


From this cacophony of self-interest they expect a symphony to arise.

What a cheap shot. Some of us have closely studied the closely analogous Socialist Calculation Debate, or read Hayek's The Fatal Conceit, and reached our own conclusions.

Seriously, Heywood-- do you think we should anoint a social engineering czar to set tax levels on petrol to save us all from ourselves? You're pretending that opportunity costs don't exist, that there's a certain "right" policy that exists, just waiting to be enforced at the barrel of a gun, and that someone (or some consensus) who has no skin in the game will magically determine a proper confiscation rate and direct the proceeds to just the right kind of research to ensure self-sufficiency and vast prosperity for all.

And if you don't quite think that, maybe you understand how irritating it is when someone characterizes your views as naive, ignorant, and symptomatic of a miswired brain, as you have done above.
posted by Kwantsar at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2005



A real libertarian would argue for higher taxes on fuel to reflect its true cost to the consumer.


A sensible libertarian maybe... a real libertarian would bleat and moan about any taxes they had to pay because the idea of reflecting externalities is just too hard.
posted by pompomtom at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2005


I think the invasion was a terrible, terrible decision, but now that we are there we need to take responsibility for our actions and do everything possible to leave Iraq in no worse condition than we found it.

How about if they work on leaving the USA in no worse condition than they found it?

Fat chance.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 4:32 AM on September 10, 2005


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